Mutualist Partner Identity & Plant Demography

The latest issue of Ecology brings with it a sweet new paper from the Amazon.  In it our intrepid team – Heraldo Vasconcelos, Brian Inouye, me, and our former postdoc Thiago Izzo – report on how the identity of ant partners influenced the demography of the myrmecophyte* Maieta guianensis. Props to Thiago for spending many, many, many days in the field, the team that developed the IPMpack package for R that really simplifies the use of Integral Projection Models to study demography, and the National Science Foundation for financial support. And yeah…that’s us featured on the cover, with a great picture by Brian Inouye.

Data and code we used are available to others for use and improvement. You can read more about my experience with the process of preparing these archives in this blog post, which got a lot of traffic because, well…you’ll see.


*Myrmecophytes are plants with specialized structures such as swollen leaf pouches or empty stems or thorns in which ants establish their colonies. These ant species are specialists - each only lives in a few species of plant - and each species of plant is colonized by only a few species of ant.  The ants forage for insects that are attacking the plant (they recognize volatiles released by the plant when it is damaged).  and in doing so defend the plant (their home) from herbivores, although some are better at it than others.

Cover image: Maieta guianensis (Melastomataceae), a myrmecophytic shrub from the central Amazon (Photo by Brian Inouye)

Professor & Distinguished Teaching Scholar

My research & teaching interests include Tropical ecology and conservation, plant population ecology, plant-animal interactions, scientometrics and bibliometrics, science & science policy in Latin America matter.